Rabbit health

Prevention, detection and treatment of myxomatosis in rabbits

September 9, 2019

If a beginner rabbit breeder wants to make a profit, he will be helped by knowledge about the diseases that affect his wards, and how to prevent them. Without this, it is easy to miss the onset of the disease, which will cause massive infection and death on the farm. What is the danger of myxomatosis in rabbits, what are the first symptoms of the disease, is there any point in treating animals, how to prevent death?

Prevention, detection and treatment of myxomatosis in rabbits

Features of the disease

Myxomatosis is an acute viral infection of the rabbit, the disease is widespread among domestic rabbits. The manifestations are characterized by serous-purulent conjunctivitis and the formation of tumors on the body of the animal. When infected, up to 95% of the farm’s livestock usually dies; survivors remain carriers of the virus for another 3 months.

Infection manifests itself in the form of:

  • classic. Small gelatinous edema forms on the skin;
  • modular. Otherwise nodular. The type is characterized by limited small and large tumors.

The incubation period lasts 6 to 20 days, the rate of manifestation depends on the endurance of the body and the conditions of detention. Surviving animals develop persistent immunity to the virus.

Methods of infection

The source of infection is patients and rabbits who have been ill recently. The infection is concentrated:

  • in blood;
  • in nasal mucus and saliva;
  • in the skin;
  • in subcutaneous fat;
  • in internal organs: liver, spleen, brain.

Prevention, detection and treatment of myxomatosis in rabbits

Danger for rabbits is the discharge from the mucous membranes of infected individuals. In the corpses of dead animals, the virus components are detected after weeks, the dried skins store the strain for up to a year.

The pathogen instantly dies in alkaline environment, ether and formalin, deactivation occurs already at 55 degrees Celsius.

How does infection happen?

  • Microorganism carriers are blood-sucking insects: midges, fleas, bugs, mosquitoes and flies. After a bite of a sick animal, the virus persists for 6 months in the body of a bloodsucker.
  • Transmission is possible by airborne droplets in close contact with rabbits.
  • Sometimes the reason for the spread are work equipment, clothing of the rabbit breeder.
  • It happens that the virus is carried by birds of prey, it remains on their claws when attacking a sick hare.
  • Rabbit infection occurs through sexual contact, such cases are infrequent, but also occur.

The virus is extremely active. If one rabbit appears on the farm, suffering from myxomatosis, in the absence of urgent measures, all animals will necessarily fall ill.

Myxomatosis outbreaks occur annually, usually in spring and summer. This is due to the propagation of blood-sucking insects. Strong epidemics occur once every five years.

About the medical history

Myxomatosis was first discovered in wild hares in southern America. in Brazil and Uruguay. at the end of the 19th century. In 1950, the strain was introduced to Australia, then to France, to fight the bred rabbits. But they did not hold back its rapid spread there, the virus gradually captured almost the entire Eurasian continent. Over time, he lost his aggressiveness, mortality decreased, a mutation occurred: several new types of strain formed.

Read more:  Treatment of myxomatosis in rabbits

How does it manifest

The first symptoms of the disease are mild, you can notice them only with a careful examination of the rabbit. First, there is a sharp rise in temperature to 41 degrees. Also, its decline sharply occurs. After a day, reddish nodular spots appear on the skin, rashes are found on the eyelids and auricles. With progress, the disease develops in one of the forms.

Edematous form

Type refers to the classic manifestations, the most dangerous. When it spreads, animals die after 2 days, a maximum of a week after the detection of signs. What are the symptoms of the edematous form?

Prevention, detection and treatment of myxomatosis in rabbits

  • At first, the eyes of animals suffer, they watery, then become inflamed, conjunctivitis develops, a thick purulent crust forms on the eyelids.
  • The nasal cavity swells, the outflow from the nostrils joins.
  • The rabbit breathes heavily and often, wheezing is heard, purulent clots come out of the throat.
  • Edematous gelatinous formations resembling growths appear on the body.
  • The animal is suppressed, does not respond to food and irritants.
  • Folds form on the head, ears hang down, the animal dies in 100% of cases.

The course is complicated by the addition of pneumonia.

Nodular shape

The modular form of myxomatosis is not so aggressive, the disease can last a month, mortality is up to 90%. It is likely that with timely treatment, half the livestock will survive.

This type is characterized by nodules that are distributed throughout the body of the animal. At an early stage, they sometimes disappear, then reappear. Sizes range from granular formations to walnut tumors. Two weeks later, the nodes undergo necrosis.

A new evolutionary form of myxomatosis with an atypical course has appeared, it has not yet become widespread. In this case, the respiratory system is affected.

In order to identify the disease in advance, rabbits are regularly examined, more carefully this must be done during epidemics. Who has the first signs of infection is immediately isolated. The remains of dead animals are disposed of.


It is not always advisable to treat myxomatosis of rabbits. When the disease has already manifested, basically the activities do not bring success. Experienced rabbit breeders, when an infection occurs on the farm, immediately destroy sick and suspicious animals. If there is a desire to maintain a valuable livestock, it is important to start treating rabbits for myxomatosis immediately, as soon as the first symptoms appear. In this case, they invite a veterinarian, using complex methods that eliminate the virus and support the body of the animal.

  • Fosprenil. An antiviral medicine, used as an injection daily until complete recovery in a dose of 1 ml.
  • "Gamavit." Recommended for elimination of toxins and increase immunity, injections of the solution are administered in 2 ml.
  • Baytril. It acts against a wide range of microorganisms, rabbits are fed with a solution in the morning and evening, counting 1 ml per 10 kg.
  • Ringer’s solution. Used to eliminate dehydration.
  • Drops. An agent is instilled into the nose to reduce swelling and the inflammatory process: “Furacilin”. In the eye. Ofloxacin.
  • Iodine. The solution is treated with cones.
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Prevention, detection and treatment of myxomatosis in rabbits

It is important that rabbits eat and drink water. If the pet refuses, it is fed and watered through a syringe. To do this, make a vitamin mass of pumpkin and pineapple juice. To facilitate breathing, the aromas of eucalyptus, fir and tea tree are used.

The watery eyes of the animal are periodically washed with tea or chamomile infusion. It is required to maintain a temperature of at least 20 ° C, as a sick pet needs heat. If the rabbit has strong immunity, you can hope for recovery. After the cure, it is quarantined, the isolation period is 3 months, this time is sufficient for the virus to leave the body.

Folk methods

Cope with myxomatosis folk remedies will not work, sometimes the disease does not lend itself to strong antiviral drugs. But when the veterinarian is not nearby, and measures need to be taken urgently, several recipes will come in handy.

  • Unrefined sunflower oil relieves inflammation in the affected nodules. Before use, it is heated for disinfection and lubricated sore spots.
  • Camel spine is used due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The plant is insisted on boiling water for 2 hours, then injections into rabbits of 5 ml are made into the inside of the lower leg.
  • Urine has long been used to treat animals as an external remedy for inflammation. The bottle with the liquid is placed in the sun, after 2-3 hours they wipe the sore spots. In addition to wound healing, a pungent odor will scare away insects.

As a prophylaxis, rabbit breeders are advised to lay marigolds in the cells. How flowers act on myxomatosis is not known, but experts say that this helps prevent the disease.

How to prevent disease

Treatment of the disease does not always give the desired result, in addition, the sick rabbits remain contagious even after recovery. Therefore, it is better to prevent the onset of the disease.


What measures prevent the spread of infection at home?

  • The rabbitry should be clean and dry.
  • Cages and the territory on which animals walk are periodically sanitized.
  • Water needs to be changed regularly, the remnants of the half-eaten feed are removed so as not to attract flies and midges.
  • During insect activity, cells are covered with nets to reduce flies’ access to animals.
  • Rabbit hair is treated with parasite preparations.
  • When buying new pets, they are kept in a separate quarantined room.

When planting suspicious animals, it is important to provide isolation. Quarantine cells are placed at a great distance from the main rabbitry.


Prevention, detection and treatment of myxomatosis in rabbits

The only productive way to protect rabbits from infection or to reduce mortality is through vaccination. A weakened strain of the virus is introduced into the animal organism, after which a stable immunity against the disease is developed. For the procedure are offered:

  • associated vaccine. In addition to the disease of rabbits myxomatosis, serum prevents another dangerous infection. Hemorrhagic fever (HBV);
  • vaccine B-82. Only works against myxomatosis strain.
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The drug is administered subcutaneously and intramuscularly, 0.5 ml according to the scheme:

  • animals are first vaccinated at one and a half months of age, when body weight reaches 500 g;
  • the booster stage occurs after 3 months;
  • in addition, serum is introduced after six months (with an unfavorable epidemiological situation);
  • under normal conditions, subsequent prophylaxis is carried out after a year.

Adult rabbits vaccinate everyone, exceptions are rabbits in the late stages of pregnancy. Optimal dates are March-April. 9 days after vaccination, the formation of immunity will end, the rabbit a year. at least 8 months will be able to resist infection.

Why the vaccine does not work

Sometimes rabbit breeders are dissatisfied with the effectiveness of serum against myxomatosis, since vaccination does not save rabbits from illness even after vaccination. There are reasons for the low productivity of the drug.

  • The factor is the lack of immune status of animals. Maintaining the state is the task of the owner, providing pets with a complete diet and good conditions.
  • Sometimes the vaccine is done late, the infection managed to penetrate the body before immunity is developed.
  • Improper or prolonged storage of the drug leads to a loss of serum properties. Therefore, the vaccine after purchase is kept in a cool and dark place: in the refrigerator.
  • You need to purchase the drug in a specialized pharmacy, only there they guarantee the authenticity and productivity of the vaccine.

Before vaccination of animals, preventive anti-coccidosis and anthelmintic measures are mandatory. If this is not done, the vaccine will not work.

Danger to humans

For people, myxomatosis is not dangerous in terms of infection. But is it possible to eat the meat of animals infected with the virus? The question is ambiguous: on the one hand, the virus does not affect the human body, such facts are not recorded by medicine, some eat rabbit meat for food.

Prevention, detection and treatment of myxomatosis in rabbits

On the other hand, the aspect of disgust becomes a limiting factor. A sick animal looks unsightly: festering eyes and bumps on the body do not increase appetite, so people refuse to eat meat, prefer to burn the corpses of dead rabbits.

In the body of sick animals, metabolic processes are disturbed, and the presence of inflammation does not make meat a healthy food. Therefore, it is undesirable to consume a product from infected rabbits.

An alternative is the use of rabbit meat for food, which have not yet shown signs of the disease, but they were in contact with a sick animal. It should be remembered that the product is subjected to thorough heat treatment, the skin and internal organs are destroyed.

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